Feds Look to Make Facebook, Google Allow Wiretaps

Privacy advocates slam proposal
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 29, 2013 11:50 AM CDT
This Feb. 1, 2012 photo shows the Facebook logo on a computer screen in Berlin.   (AP Photo/dapd, Timur Emek)

(Newser) – Feds are working on a proposal to push big online companies to comply with government wiretapping orders. Under the measure, which hasn't yet gained White House approval, the likes of Google and Facebook would be fined increasing amounts if they refused to submit to the orders, the Washington Post reports. The goal: to prevent suspicious figures from "going dark" online, their actions hidden from authorities.

Right now, "we don’t have the ability to go to court and say, 'We need a court order to effectuate the intercept,'" says the FBI's general counsel. "Other countries have that." Smaller companies wouldn't face the fines, which could begin at tens of thousands of dollars and climb with failure to pay. But online privacy activists are already speaking out against the idea. "This proposal is a non-starter that would drive innovators overseas and cost American jobs," says one. "They might as well call it the Cyber Insecurity and Anti-Employment Act."

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